Critics’ Picks

Benjamin Crotty and Bertand Dezetoux, Division Movement to Vungtau, 2016, 16-mm transferred to video, color, sound, 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

Benjamin Crotty and Bertand Dezetoux, Division Movement to Vungtau, 2016, 16-mm transferred to video, color, sound, 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

Oslo

Benjamin Crotty

VI, VII
Tordenskiolds gate 12
October 14–December 18, 2016

Consider a screen showing what appear to be DIY recordings of military life. The seven projected vignettes each give a short glimpse into the life of war as seen through the lens of a 16-mm camera: military vehicles camouflaged in the Vietnamese jungle, silent moments of reading letters from home, swimming in rivers. Something, however, confuses the analogue and historical surfaces of the film: Virtual fruits appear on the screen, rupturing the reality of the original.

This work, Division Movement to Vungtau, 2016, a digital video made by Benjamin Crotty in collaboration with Bertrand Dezoteux, is installed in the middle of the exhibition space, where one can view the four minutes and twenty-seven seconds of transferred archival material from the Vietnam War, found by the artist in the US National Archives. At the back of the gallery space, five small images of typewritten texts, layered with pictures of food, are installed on the wall. This series, “Menu No. 1–15,” 2016, displays archival records of meals eaten by President Harry S. Truman. The exhibition emphasizes that the archive is no longer a dusty room filled with endless folders and documents, as Hal Foster has written. Instead, as archives themselves, the works manifest a different approach in a world where human beings are not the only ones capable of memorizing, desiring, and perceiving.

Adding digital subjects to archival footage or information, though, does not demolish the history of the Vietnam War. Rather, it stresses the biopolitical concerns of bodies and objects. Here, the filmic image is not a surface—or film per se—with an indexical relation to the Real, but instead a complex assemblage where concepts of memory, reality, and life itself are under investigation.